Asbestos Management in school system buildings 2009/2010

SIM 07/09/06


Inspection activity to determine compliance with Duty to Manage Asbestos in selected system built schools 2009/2010.


Compliance with Duty to Manage Asbestos in relation to all system built schools, and reduced potential for inadvertent exposure of teachers and pupils to asbestos.


The comprehensive checks of CLASP buildings by FOD during 2007/08 and the testing of system-built schools by HSL suggest that the risk of asbestos exposure in system-built schools is generally well known and appropriately managed in accordance with legal duties. However, failures to manage asbestos were identified in schools randomly selected for recent BBC and ITV programmes. These failures have fuelled pressure groups calling for the removal of asbestos from all schools.

HSE needs to establish a comprehensive picture of the level of compliance.

Audience / Industry

The Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) agreed to undertake a survey of LAs and schools across England to determine the level of compliance. Public Services Sector will identify the targets across England for FOD interventions from the responses to this survey in April 2009. Work continues within Scotland and Wales to remind duty holders of the guidance, and to identify how best to identify duty holders that are not following HSE guidance.


  • There is clear guidance for LAs and schools on managing asbestos. Teachers and pupils are not likely to be at risk in the course of their normal activities provided duty holders are complying with the legal requirements.
  • While it is important to ensure that school duty holders are complying with the Duty to Manage Asbestos, it is maintenance workers such as electricians and general trades people who are at far greater risk and may be unknowingly exposed to high levels of asbestos fibres.

Activities required

DCSF and Public Services Sector will use the results of this survey across England to identify any LAs, Diocese or particular schools that are not complying with guidance on managing asbestos in system built schools.  Details of these duty holders will be provided to FOD during the first quarter of 2009/10.  An update on progress with Welsh and Scottish schools will be provided at that time.

While a high level of compliance is expected, the number of organisations to target will not be known until April 2009.  Public Service Sector will develop a proportionate approach to non-responders and those that have not completed all the action required once the target audience is identified.  Clear guidance on the approach will be provided with the target lists, but is expected to include:

  • A visit to the Local Authority (or Governing Body of relevant schools) to assess the effectiveness of the arrangements that are in place to manage the risks from asbestos in system-built schools, and in particular the action taken to implement HSE's guidance.
  • Visits to a sample of schools (or all schools if limited numbers of schools involved) to assess the effectiveness of the arrangements to manage asbestos at that school premises.
  • Confirmation that the duty holder's assessment, and the actions at individual schools are appropriate – and where necessary taking enforcement action in line with the principles of the EMM and EPS

Standards of compliance for management of asbestos are well-established and specific guidance and reminders have been provided to school duty holders.   Given the vulnerable, non-occupational status of school children potentially exposed in these environments, the enforcement expectation is increased in line with the principles of HSC's Enforcement Policy Statement.


From July 2009 to March 2010.


Inspectors should be aware of who (in terms of diversity eg men, women, disabled etc) is the target group in the sector they are dealing with. Give consideration to, and factor into the approach, any issues that may surround this audience such as literacy issues, English as a second language and disability (access needs).

For information

DCSF sent out a request on 29 January 2009 to all LAs and to all Diocese across the English Regions asking them to complete an electronic survey on asbestos management for system built schools and other system built children's settings.  The results of this survey are expected during April 2009.


Public Services Sector Band 2 – David Bryant
Lead Inspector – Janet Hanson

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Updated 2023-10-12